I have been annoyed to the point of a blog post with the word “literally.” This is a very neat word, I should say. It serves the great purpose of reigning in exaggeration and allowing one to express things in actual terms, making the information – not the words themselves – impressive.
My problem with “literally” is not with the word itself, but with its rampant overuse recently. I have heard of incidents in which people “literally…”
- puked for, like, seven hours.
- kicked in the door while delivering a pizza.
- pledged never to drink again (freshmen in college. Yeah, right.)
- fallen fifty feet and been uninjured.
- driven 500 miles per hour.
I think my point is made here. I’m sure all of these things have happened, but I’m also fairly sure none of them happened to the people I was hearing about. The word literally is simply used to make a situation sound more intense than it actually is. It’s no longer exciting if you just “drove here in, like, thirty seconds.” Now you have to literally do it.
So do this very useful word a favor and stop using it to lie. Its purpose is to differentiate exaggeration from actuality, so let it serve that purpose. If your story isn’t cool without being “literal,” then it’s probably not going to be cool if you add that in there anyways.